Wednesday, August 20, 2014

People Exactly Like Us

I spend a lot of time thinking about how people are treated. Sometimes it's the tragic news stories that dominate my twitter news list. Other times the pain is very overheard racial slur, or a demeaning comment about a gay or lesbian person.

I have to tell you...I'm feeling sad today.

Now before you think I'm getting all soft and weepy, consider these questions:

- What have you done in your workplace, above and beyond what the law requires, to create a positive environment for all employees?

- What words do you use, even casually away from work? Do you have a "leadership" vocabulary for the office, and a "personal" one when you're with your friends?

- Do you support companies that have track records of discriminating against people simply because they are different?

- When you experience forms of discrimination, large or small, do you speak up or play it safe and remain silent?

People Are People
Thankfully my parents instilled in me from the moment I was old enough to interact with other human beings that everyone is equal. 

No group, viewpoint, or taken-out-of-context Bible verse justifies discriminating against anyone. (By the way, my Father was a very successful Pastor.)

The good news in all of the persistent chaos around us is that we do have laws that protect people, more and more states are recognizing the rights of people to love and marry whomever they chose, and companies like mine are offering benefits to all employees.

How About You
Do you make sure your organization accepts everyone? How exactly do you make that happen? It would be a shame if any of our organizations had a reputation for only hiring people who were just like us.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 


Monday, August 18, 2014

I Don't Feel...Anything

Something is different. You're not quite sure what it is, but things aren't what they used to be when you sit down at your desk. You just don't feel anything...the drive, the passion, the 'I'm-all-fired-up-to-make-a-difference' energy that was once part of your style. It seems like you're following the same patterns, connect with the same people, and tackle the same issues as if they were the seasons of the year circling back again.

Wait a minute...

Same routine...again?

Routines Are Good
I have to admit I rely heavily on my routines. It's as if I put myself on autopilot, particularly when I'm getting ready for work, flowing through my day, or even doing my workouts. I know what to do, which helps me avoid making mistakes, forgetting things, or doing anything that will disrupt my life.

Routines often bring confidence, play to our strengths, and keep us securely in our comfort zones. For the most part, that is a pretty good way to think about routines. 

Routines Are Brutal
Here's the problem...routines are lethal.  Not in a sniper-like attack sort of way; but rather, a slow insidious erosion sort of way. We become complacent in our "normal flow." 

We allow complacency to replace our drive to be the best. (Being the best takes extra effort, right?) The negative talk that creeps into our conversations is a product of routine and complacency. 

Yes, routines can be brutal.

New Routines Are Glorious
So how do we transition out of the rut of "bad" routines and get ourselves and our career back on track? Simple...

Commit to changing.

It will take hard work to change your routine. So what? 
It will force you to do new things that you're not ready for. So what?
It will make you nervous and you'll make a mistake or two. So what?

You don't really want to be the long-term cynical employee that everyone smirks about behind your back, do you?

How About You
What's it going to be? Are you going to force yourself, as painful as that sounds, to modify part of your safe routine to be a real leader? Or, is just easier to be the source of the water cooler jokes from the ones who will be leading the way for your company in the future?
I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Adversity and Strengths

"Look at adversity as an opportunity to discover your strengths because there are opportunities galore out there. Thomas Edison said it well - If you did all the things in life you were truly capable of, you would astound yourself."

Nadja Piatka

Look around you today...your task list...your emails...your team members...your busy calendar...

Is it all adversity in your eyes? 

Or, are all of those things the key to discovering your true strengths? Just imagine what you'll be able to accomplish.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Faster Than A Bullet

For most of 2013 I used a certain phrase almost daily: "just keeping it real." I like that phrase a lot. Looking back I realize I used it intentionally, and publicly, as a tool to let others know that I was going to address issues that seem to be happening right in front of me, but that for some reason others chose to ignore.

Outcomes Aren't Everything
So much of the work I'm responsible for, and maybe for you too, is based on outcomes. Did we meet the goal? Have the numbers improved? Are we able to measure our progress? These questions are essential parts of moving our organizations forward; however, there is a missing piece of the leadership equation that dramatically impacts credibility and is not typically measured.
"A lack of realism today costs credibility tomorrow."
- John C. Maxwell

Unless you're a politician making empty promises on the campaign trail, your vision for the future is rarely reexamined once time has passed. We can get excited about where we believe the company is headed, but a scorecard is not often used to compare our vision with what everyone knows is true right now.

Let me restate that...the people around you are keenly aware of reality. Too many grand statements about the future can sound like empty promises if they are not linked to the reality of how your organization operates today.

Real Is Good
Like all of you, I want to help my organization continue to improve both for the customers we serve (in my case patients), as well as for the employees who work here. As I think about the words I say, the vision I have for moving both HR and the company forward, and the responsibility I have as a leader, it seems to me that the more I "keep things real" the greater degree of credibility I will have in the eyes of those around me.

Sometimes real may not be positive, or trendy, or fun. But real is honest; and I would much rather be honest with the employees in my company than get all caught up in my own rambling stories about how things will be...someday.

How About You
If you're not keeping it real, your credibility is disappearing faster than a bullet. What words do you use in the workplace? Are you forever talking about the future, your vision, and how things will be? Or, have you decided to get real, and build that grand future from where your employees are actually experiencing life in your company?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

500 Miles An Hour

"Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestones."

- Author Unknown

This is the 500th post on NoExcusesHR. I can hardly believe it. I can still feel the moment when I published my first post...a combination of excitement and fear. I wasn't a writer (that is still true today) but I knew I had a passion for leadership that had to find a release. This blog seemed to be the perfect outlet. I still feel that way four years later.
Staying True
As I revisited some of my early posts I realized the same passion, energy, and focus on leadership accountability that I had back then is stronger than ever now. 

While this site is never going to be anything extra special, it has become for me, a safe place to share my feelings with you. 

That may sound odd that a public website feels safe, but you have made me feel that way...

...and I am grateful...

Taking A Stand
Over the years my confidence has grown. Not so much in my ability to write, but rather what I feel I need to write about. Issues around human rights, discrimination and racism are evident throughout my posts. 

At first it seemed a bit awkward to address some of these issues, but those feelings quickly dissipated as I recognized the need for a leadership voice in my role to take a stand publicly.

For me, taking a stand is a requirement of leadership, not a preference.

500 More 
As I think about the next 500 posts I don't feel intimidated or worried; in fact I'm quite energized! Consider this...has the leadership void been filled? Are all employees being treated fairly? Is the scourge of bigotry wiped clean off the Earth?

Alas, I'm guessing that between my constant failings, and the struggles of those around us all, I will be able to find the proper inspiration going forward.

How About You
When you reach your next "milestone" whatever that may mean for you, think about what it really represents. Is it just another candle on a cake or turn of the page on the calendar? Or, do milestones represent something much more powerful in our lives?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fixer

"It's always up to me. These employees are full of complaints but I'm the one who has to stop what I'm doing and get things back on track."

"When things get tense around here, it seems like I'm the only one that has the courage to step up and hold people accountable. It's wearing me out."

"Why does he behave that way? Can't we just have a normal conversation about these issues?"

It's On Me
So often in the life of a leader we are pulled into the role of The Fixer. You know what I'm talking about...we're the ones who everyone else expects to jump in and resolve the tension and smooth things over. Why is it that the people around us are willing to fan the drama-flames, yet are unable to see their own role in turning that spark into a fire?

It's Exhausting
Sadly, those that are so comfortable stirring the pot often miss how draining it can be to "fix" things. Since they are rarely involved in cleaning up the mess they create, they do not realize the physical and mental toll it takes on those of us who have to jump in (again and again) to save the day.

Ultimately we only have ourselves to blame I guess. We've allowed certain behaviors to occur repeatedly, and in in order to keep the peace we end up fixing everything.

It's Enough
When was the last time you  stepped back and said "no more!" Have you given yourself the freedom to no longer be subservient to those around you; and instead focus on driving accountability into the situation? If not, it's time. You do not need to own their behavior. You do not need to feel compelled to come to the rescue...and you certainly do not need to feel guilty that you need to do anything at all.

The people around you are adults. They can be responsible for themselves.

Tough HR love? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely.

How About You
Set yourself free today. Decide that you are going to separate being supportive from playing the role of The Fixer. Ironically, when we shift into fix-it mode we're actually allowing the people around us to continue their lazy self-centered ways. Are you ready to be free?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hey Leader...Grab A Towel!

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, speaking, and writing about effective leadership. It's been such a big part of my professional and personal life for so long that I don't really know anything else. Sometimes I'm convinced I've figured out the key pieces of being a leader...and at other times I feel like I'm just getting started.

...and that's where the trouble begins...

Title and Being Right
For many leaders having a fancy job title equates with their opinion always being the correct one. This is a colossal failure, and sadly happens regularly to those who find themselves with new authority or power.

Let's pause for a moment to remember what leaders are supposed to do. Our task is to guide, inspire, support and harness the power of the bright people around us. Our job is not to be an idea factory that squashes the creative genius of our teams.

Are you with me? It's not about's about us leading our colleagues!

Title and Vision
Here's where thing get a little tricky. Leaders need to have a vision of how the team, department, organization or industry can be in the future. Their needs to be an inner drive to move toward that vision that gets the people around you fired up. 

However, the path to achieving that vision needs to be a shared process. When leaders who are unaccustomed to new found power, combine their enthusiasm with "their vision" we quickly find ourselves with a disengaged team and embarrassing credibility issues for the leader.

Remember the Emperor with no clothes? get my point.

How About You
Think about the leaders you work with...and think about your own leadership style. Is the combination of power and vision compromising your ability to inspire, support and leverage the team's creativity? 

If so, it might be time to reach for a towel and cover up.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.